There is no cricketing force so powerful as momentum. For most people "momentum" is all about having impetus from the good times to get you through the hard times. They think that because momentum has such a substantial effect, it must also take a while to build up.

Fortunately, that's not the case. In cricket, momentum can be built up in no time at all. Unfortunately, the flipside is that it can also be lost in no time at all too. But that doesn't really matter. The lack of the one quality that defines momentum isn't really that much of an issue, because, really, it's just a word that you say in press conferences to pass the time.

How easy is it to gain momentum?
It's pretty damn easy. In the World Twenty20, England were claiming to have gained momentum after a loss, a no-result and then a win. Subsequent wins must have put their momentum off the chart. Successive wins are pretty much unprecedented in the world of momentum.

How easy is it lose momentum?
It's pretty damn easy. On England's last visit to the West Indies, Chris Gayle said: "After the first game, we picked up that momentum, but after that disaster at the Sir Viv Stadium and the change of venue, it kind of put us on the back foot." This was following an abandoned match and a draw. All of the West Indian momentum gained in their first Test win evaporated. They just didn't have sufficient momentum to carry them through no defeats.

Twenty20 momentum
Of course, in Twenty20 cricket, everything's that little bit faster. Captains have been known to claim their side has the momentum if their opening bowler has started with a dot ball. Even a single can be enough for bowling momentum. It's all about context. If a bowler has been hit for five successive sixes, he can recover momentum by conceding a one-bounce four.

The art of gaining momentum
Learning to gain momentum is a vital skill for the modern cricketer. You need to gain momentum before your opponent has it. It's not impossible for both teams to have momentum simultaneously, and having more momentum than your opponents is no guarantee of success - but it can't harm. Wily professionals have been known to turn up at the start of the season with their momentum already in place, having acquired it getting out of bed that morning. Teams on long losing streaks have been able to recover momentum through not tripping over anything for a few minutes. The key is to think outside the box. Studies have shown that the box only contains a certain volume of momentum and that most of this precious commodity is actually elsewhere.

Alex Bowden blogs at King Cricket